India is one of the most diversified lands found anywhere in the world. All the different cultures, customs and traditions knitted together give India its diversity. There is a popular saying in Hindi which very well explains the variations of Indian cultures. The saying goes like, “Kos-kos par badle paani, chaar kos par baani” (The language spoken in India changes every few kilometres, just like the taste of the water). It’s not just cultural diversity but religious diversity as well. And every religion has festivals, right? That’s what we all love, don’t we? 4th of November this year, marks Gurunanak Jayanti , one of the most sacred festivals of the Sikhs.
The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev is celebrated as Guru Nanak Jayanti. Guru Nanak, who is the first among the 10 Sikh gurus, was born in Talwandi, a village near Lahore, Pakistan, on April 15, 1469. It is believed that he received enlightenment in 1496 and preached the world about peace and religious harmony. The festival is observed over a period of three days. The celebrations of the holy festival begin with ‘Akhand Path’ prior to Gurpurab. The 48-hour-long non-stop reiterations of verses from the Guru Granth Sahib – the holy book of Sikhs — are held in gurdwaras. The next day, a procession is organized which is headed by the five beloved ones or panj pyaras where they carry the Sikh flag and the Guru Granth Sahib in a palanquin. This part of the celebration is called Nagarkirtan. There are singers who follow the five people and sing along hymns as the procession goes into the streets and pass on the teachings of Guru Nanak. These streets are usually decorated for the festivities with Sikh flags and flowers and people join in the procession too.
As no festival is complete without a sumptuous meal, Gurpurab is no exception. The proceeding is followed with ‘Langar’, which let followers offer ‘Seva’ (offerings/serving). The community lunch – cooked and served by volunteers – is open for all, irrespective of religion, caste or creed. The vegetarian meal comprises of simple yet delicious food like daal, roti, chawal, sabji and halwa. The festival is widely celebrated in northern India, particularly with much fanfare in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. UK and Canada have a large population of Sikhs and hence, Gurpurab is observed there as well.
Team SRMbyAG wishes all its readers a very Happy Gurunanak Jayanti!
— By Mohammad Sahil, SRMbyAG